Why Americans Can't Get Their Hands on Great Small Cars

Why Americans Can’t Get Their Hands on Great Small Cars

BMW’s Mini builds the Mini Cooper D, one of the most fuel-efficient cars in the world. It has a 1.6-liter, 110-horsepower (with 240 lbs feet of torque) diesel engine that is capable of getting well over 60 miles per gallon (about 80 mpg has been recorded with the manual transmission). In any guise, the Mini Cooper is one of the best handling vehicles you can buy. The Mini Cooper Diesel still has amazing handling like other Minis and is available in several configurations (convertible and larger Clubman), but it is not available in the United States.

Ford has been building the Ka for over 12 years. It is an extremely efficient design and gets remarkable mileage while still being entertaining to drive. It is handsome with a considerable amount of comfort and utility for its size. Over 40 mpg (combined) and great driving dynamics are but a few of its attributes. Despite its age, the Ford Ka is considered one of the most popular cars in Europe and South America. The Ford Ka is not available for sale in the United States.

**The United States is prohibited from having hundreds of great small cars. Why? **

Full Story

Heck, I have been wondering the same thing since I posted this: City Cars - Would you drive one?

As the article notes, up until recently Americans by and large haven’t wanted small cars. Sure, there were some such as myself and Peregrinus, but we have been part of a small minority. Consequently, smaller cars haven’t been marketed here much.

Plus, there is Detroit’s past reluctance to build small cars because of its large fixed cost per vehicle. Smaller domestic cars had trouble competing in cost with smaller foreign cars.

Quote:
Why Americans Can’t Get Their Hands on Great Small Cars

BMW’s Mini builds the Mini Cooper D, one of the most fuel-efficient cars in the world. It has a 1.6-liter, 110-horsepower (with 240 lbs feet of torque) diesel engine that is capable of getting well over 60 miles per gallon (about 80 mpg has been recorded with the manual transmission). In any guise, the Mini Cooper is one of the best handling vehicles you can buy. The Mini Cooper Diesel still has amazing handling like other Minis and is available in several configurations (convertible and larger Clubman), but it is not available in the United States.

Ford has been building the Ka for over 12 years. It is an extremely efficient design and gets remarkable mileage while still being entertaining to drive. It is handsome with a considerable amount of comfort and utility for its size. Over 40 mpg (combined) and great driving dynamics are but a few of its attributes. Despite its age, the Ford Ka is considered one of the most popular cars in Europe and South America. The Ford Ka is not available for sale in the United States.

**The United States is prohibited from having hundreds of great small cars. Why? **

Full Story
Heck, I have been wondering the same thing since I posted this: City Cars - Would you drive one?

Well I would drive one if I never went on a highway to get to my church or job only on those days I am alone or I only have one other adult person. For short trips it would be great if I then did not have to have a BIG something to take the family with me. Also the cost for an extra car just so if I go out alone does not make financial sense.

My grandchildren that live with me are toooo young to sit in the front seat. (Oh no back seat oops) The two seater’s are cute not practical IMHO.

Thanks the EPA for their ridiculous low emission diesel regulation.

All the really great mpg Euro cars are diesels. Those diesels historically haven’t been able to meet US clean air standards, so can’t be sold here.

Now that we’ve reformulated our diesel fuel to have near zero sulfur, that may change soon.

But Euro cars are not as great for everyday use as car mag reviewers make them sound. Want one? Buy a previous generation Jetta. Almost identical here and in Europe (called Bora there). If you like new, grab a Saturn Astra. Almost identical to the Opel Astra on sale now. And the Saab 9-3 is sold over there as well as the BMW 3 series.

What all of these have in common are rear seats suitable only for grade school kids: adults are too cramped for long trip comfort and infant seats require major contortions to work properly. Believe me, I had an 02 Jetta and car seats were NO fun.

Small European cars are great for cities and highly congested areas, for European mountain roads, for European winding roads and anywhere in Italy(!). American cars are wonderful for long journeys on straight roads at constant speeds.

There were many times when we lived in the US, sitting drearily in a queue from one intersection to the next intersection, that I missed having a nippy small European car but, then again, I’d have probably been arrested for driving like a European!

I have been looking into the Astra, but I am holding off for a year or so. I want to see what the technology changes actually become reality. Plus, I want to see if any of the “city cars” (the Astra is not a “city car”) are brought to the US.

Right now, my car is 7 years old and I am seeing if I can get 10/11 years out of it.

I have never driven in Europe, so I don’t know what it’s like. But in my occupation I drive a lot, and for substantial distances. When huge trucks come around you at 80 mph in good conditions or at 70 mph in poor conditions, you want all the weight and stability you can get. When you are about to get boxed in among slow and fast-moving trucks, you want some power to get out of there. And when you’re doing a 150 or 200 mile, each way, turnaround trip, any significant vibration or poor suspension will just beat you to pieces.

My car of choice for years has been used BMW 7 series. Not the best on mileage, they’re certainly not the worst. Every time I traded for another one, I always tried out new American models before doing it (a BMW 7 series that’s maybe 3 or 4 years old costs about the same as a new mid-range Detroiter). Dollar for dollar there’s no real comparison when it comes to stability and power on demand, and I always end up with the BMW, notwithstanding that I really would like to buy American.

Every now and then I end up driving someone else’s car, and the only small car I have ever felt at all good about driving on a crowded interstate is my son’s BMW 3 series; also bought used.

I really think if it was not for the trucks on the highways, or even the great numbers of them, it wouldn’t be so bad driving a small car, or one that maybe wasn’t engineered or powered quite as well as a BMW.

I drive a subcompact and it can feel a bit scary when you have a Hummer on one side and a truck behind you. I’ve looked at a Smart car sitting next to an SUV and that’s even scarier.

I’d consider a Smart car if I knew all my driving was in town. But I want something at least a little bigger if I’m driving on the freeway.

If I were buying a car today I’d be debating between a Prius (very sensible) and a Mini convertible (so darned cute!).

I bought the wife an 08 Chevy HHR. That thing is pretty fuel efficient and reliable. We get about 34-35 mpg on the freeway at 65 mph. It’s a small car, but it doesn’t feel scary. It is also very versatile especially when it comes to cargo space. The car is quiet for a small car. We put almost 20k on it already.

The EPA measures emissions by particles per gallon (ppg). In Europe they measure emissions by particles per mile (ppm).

For comparision purposes (numbers not researched)

In US, a gas engine in a car that gets 30 mpg has 30 ppg and a diesel engine in a car that gets 65 mpg has 60 ppg. In the US the diesel engine is a gross polluter.

In Europe, the same gas engine has 1 ppm and the diesel engine has .92 ppm. In Europe the diesel engine is basically equivalent to the gas engine pollution wise.

If you can live with more like 5 series size, try out a Cadillac CTS with the sport suspension. VERY comparable to the 5 series in driving characteristics, but a bit more plasticy inside.

I have an 07 CTS company car with the unusual 2.8 V6 engine. It was mostly made for fleets and Euro export (they generally tax displacement in Europe). It never gets out of Metro Chicagoland, returns a lifetime average of 23 mpg and in 40k miles so far has nothing but 1 recall for issues. I had forgotten how great RWD is.

We have a Ford Focus which gets about the same mpg as your Chevi. It feels like you’re driving a bigger car and rides pretty good. American brands are good because if you life in a rural area, such as we do, you don’t have to travel to at least a small city to get parts and warrenty work like you would with some of the foreign brands. The cost of repairs is also less expensive. I drive a Ford Taurus which gets around 29mpg just driving to work and back, which is pretty good. I would trade, but I have to wait on somebody to “share the wealth”.

the Smart Car and the Mini are cute
most Americans especially American men don’t want cute, they want muscle

DISCLAIMER: The views and opinions expressed in these forums do not necessarily reflect those of Catholic Answers. For official apologetics resources please visit www.catholic.com.